The Sanskrit word sneha means oil, and it also means love. It is said that oil is to the body, as love is to the soul.
Abhyanga, oil massage, is a invaluable practice for nourishing the body and calming the mind. This is a practice that can incorporated into your morning routine, and leave you gleaming throughout the day.
It is said that abhyanga imparts strength to the body, stimulates healthy circulation, gives sound sleep, and bestows youthfulness.
Incorporating abhyanga into your morning ritual is simple.
Create about 15 minutes for yourself before your morning shower. Heat half a cup of oil until it is pleasantly warm. You should be able to place your finger in the oil without any discomfort.
Spread a towel over the floor that will absorb any dripping oil. It's great to leave the shower running for a few minutes before you begin--this will help open your pores to absorb the oil.
Begin by massaging the soles of your feet. A little oil will go a long way. Taking your time, begin to massage oil into the legs with long strokes. Use gentle, circular strokes around the knees.
Massage your oils similarly, with circular strokes on the shoulders and elbows.
Do your best to apply oil to the back. It can help to drip a little oil over the shoulders, then reach around with the back of the hands to apply it.
Gradually move on to apply oil to the chest with circular strokes.
On the abdomen, apply your oil with in a broad, clockwise motion. This will help to stimulate the natural direction of movement through the colon.
Then, take a soothing, warm shower. The water will rinse off any excess oil, leaving your skin glowing.
Ayurveda has gifted us with many siddha thaila, oils infused with potent herbs.
When vata dosha, the energy of air and ether, is out of balance, one may experience mental agitation, insomnia, anxiety, weak digestion, aching pain, and dryness. The benefit of abhyanga for alleviating these imbalances cannot be overstated. Balashwagandhadi Thailam has as its primary ingredients, Bala and Ashwagandha roots - heavy, sweet and nourishing. This oil is ideal for such conditions.
When pitta dosha, the energy of fire and water, is out of balance, one may experience anger, burning sensations in the body, and inflammation in the digestive tract. To cool down these discomforts, Chandanadi Thailam, infused with sandalwood powder, is ideal.
When kapha dosha, the energy of earth and water, is out of balance, one may experience heaviness, lethargy, depression and slow digestion. Vigorous massage with sesame oil can be very helpful for such conditions.
Abhyanga should not be performed when there are open wounds, swelling, or irritation of the skin. When in doubt, consult your Ayurvedic practitioner.